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I currently am going through bad situation. Our manager was laid off and replaced by other manager which is way younger than previous one somewhere around mid 20s. Problem is that I often get dismissed and ignored by new manager, during zoom meetings, when I try to add something he often cuts me off with stern "okay", "yes sir" or "understood", while engaging in meaningful and lengthy debates with other videocall participants in turns, when it comes to my turn I am "skipped", others can interrupt him, he explicitly said "feel free to interrupt or correct me.".

Also I do not get as many tasks assigned as before, and the ones I do get are often generic and feel dismissive like find and fix bugs or keep maintaining x.

How can I really tackle this situation if I can at all? Also I think it is worth noting that I'm only team member who is over 40 since previous manager was laid off can this be real problem ?

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    Have you tried talking up front to the manager? You could also coordinate with one of your colleague to restate some of your points that were dismissed in the current or previous meetings to see if the manager might be discriminating or not. – Al rl Aug 30 '20 at 20:49
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    Im not looking down on anyone because of age, its quite opposite imo, im looked down upon because of my advanced age. Pleade dont put words into my mouth. Thx. – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Aug 30 '20 at 21:52
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    I'm afraid you will get the answers you are looking for. If you give that little real information and say "I'm old is this ageism" you will attract people telling you it's ageism. Had you said "I'm black is this racism" or "I'm a women is this sexism" you would have gotten answers saying yes, yes,yes. I'd suggest you concentrate on those answers that urge you to find out what it is instead of jumping to the obvious, but baseless conclusion. – nvoigt Aug 31 '20 at 5:44
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    @SeraM Yes, manager has lengthy debates vith everyone in turns while he "skips" me. – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Sep 1 '20 at 5:48
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    I doubt it, from his tone he sounds very dismissive and overly (and I mean it) formal, since i posted answer, tried to break ice several times and even explicitly asked to drop formalities in joking and friendly manner, "huh I'm not that old, just call me by name" for example, didn't work at all. He barely acknowledges me, talkibg about trust is bit far fetched in current situation imho @P. Hopkinson – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Sep 7 '20 at 11:02
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I may have a unique perspective on this;

In hindsight, when I was younger (late 20s) and put in charge of a small team, I had an employee under me in their early 50s quit, and give an exit interview very similar to what you've written.

Apparently I "didn't recognise his contributions" or "value his opinion", or "use him to his best ability". I "gave him busy work". He was the oldest team member by about a decade. I was the youngest manager, I was technically still at uni when made manager.

His departure took me by surprise; I thought I did value him, I thought I did value his contributions. Shortly after I left that company and got a new job as a developer. Haven't managed people since.

In hindsight:

  • He had an accent I struggled with, and a good chat was a lot of effort. I found him difficult to small-talk with, and after 12 months I couldn't tell you anything about his interests, family, or who he was outside of work.
  • I also was uncomfortable with the power dynamic. He's old enough to be my Father, yet I'm supposed to be developing him.
  • The combination of accent and power dynamic made me want to reduce interactions - I'd give him work which could be assigned in bulk, and was obvious when it was completed. So that I didn't have to micromanage, and didn't have to review what was done at the end of it.
  • This resulted in a segmentation of my team - he was working on one thing, everyone else was working together on a more complex task. The complex task needed a lot of discussion and brainstorming, and he was present at these, but because he wasn't working on it he did get skipped while asking people their thoughts more than once. I thought nothing of it.
  • When crunch hit, I kept him working on his regular area because I needed that maintained and stable, it was the rest of the team who did the long hours of unpaid overtime to meet the unrealistic company demands. I (probably incorrectly stereotypically) valued his time more, assumed he'd need to be home with his family while my younger 20's guys worked late. I never took steps to confirm or deny this stereotype.

My advice to you, OP, is don't assume your manager has it in for you. I didn't have it in for this employee, yet the screw up is on me and me alone. Your manager is probably failing upwards (like I was) and doesn't realise his mistakes:

  • Ask your boss directly for something different. "I could do with a change after so much maintaining X - do you need any help on Y? You know I helped write that right?"
  • He may be cutting your off because he's in a hurry, he may be cutting your off because of zoom lag, he may be cutting your off because he's impulsive and already moved onto the next problem, (or he may be dismissive of you). A polite "hang on I've got more" after he cuts you off should help you clarify which one.
  • Also "okay", "yes sir" or "understood" all sound like something said by someone trying to actively listen and acknowledge you. Now there could be tone or non verbal communication not encoded in text here, but if he pauses after saying that he isn't interrupting you, he's trying to acknowledge he's paying attention, ironically to encourage you to speak. This is really only interruption if he cuts your off and goes: "Understood, and Sally what do you think?".
  • "Yes sir" is an honorific, unless he says it cackling with obvious sarcasm I think it's pretty obvious he respects you a lot. I would not expect to hear this from boss to employee in any culture.

If the above can't address it subtly with your boss, try to talk with your coworkers about it to confirm you are reading the situation correctly.

Then, confront boss, in private. Don't assume he's doing it intentionally, leave the HR complain stuff until you're absolutely certain.

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    So you basically singled him out and tucked away based on stereotypes? At least thats how it sounds, you may think giving special treatment is kind action, but believe me it is horrible experience to be on receiving end of it. – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Sep 7 '20 at 11:14
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    This is why I fear growing old, when issues arise people will make assumptions just for the sake of avoiding you, instead of talking with you face to face. That "power dynamic" thing has no excuse really. – gydorah Sep 9 '20 at 5:40
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    @Tronche I think you are misunderstanding Ash's tone. I don't believe Ash is presenting what he (she?) did as correct. He's explaining a mistake he made in dealing with the older member of his team, and he obviously regrets it. I found it to be a very insightful response. – Mark Meuer Sep 10 '20 at 16:28
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    @Tronche,MarkMeuer This is a remorseful story. I had no ill intention, just I wasn't a great manager of people and this is evidence of it. – Ash Sep 11 '20 at 6:10
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    And @Tronche you might consider if you're not rightly interpreting this post, maybe you're also not rightly interpreting your manager's attitude towards you. – mxyzplk Sep 11 '20 at 14:47
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when I try to add something he often cuts me off with stern "okay", "yes sir" or "understood"

When your manager says this, say something like "Wait just a moment, I wasn't done with my thought." The point here is assume good intent on his part and communicate that you weren't finished. If you're not comfortable doing this in the moment, you can talk to him privately about this.

Also I do not get as much tasks as before, and if do then it is something generic and dismissive like find and fix bugs or keep maintaining x

I recommend talking to your new manager about the type of work you're getting isn't the same as you used to get. It could be that your manager is still onboarding and not familiar with the work you do for the team.

Every manager is a little different, but I wouldn't be surprised if the new manager might be intimidated by you given the age difference and experience differences. I recommend being more cautious around a new manager until you understand their style and if you are the only one getting special negative treatment, then it's time to plan your exit strategy.

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Time for another Zoom meeting, friend – with your new manager, one-on-one.

Discuss your entire situation, as you have just done with us, "as you see it." Then, constructively ask how he sees it. Where is the common ground? What's best for the project? For the team? For you as a part of that team?

Then: shut-up and listen. Don't interrupt. "You've said your piece, now listen just as carefully and attentively to his." Be prepared to receive and to learn from whatever he says – even if you don't agree. If invited to then offer a summary or a rebuttal, choose to summarize what you thought you heard both of you say instead of trying to "win." Then, go back, take care of any stings, and then think about it. Professionally.

Presume that every manager is making a good-faith effort to manage every member of the team, but that every manager does it in a different way despite the rigorous strictures imposed by HR Law. Presume that there are things which you'll be told "only if you ask," and that you can learn something from those things. "And, well, you did ask." You're the one who "asked first."

Presume that it's not "discrimination." It's just, as an engineer might say, "an impedance mismatch."

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I'm keying off one specific phrase:

...while engaging in meaningful debates with others

My own manager has mentioned this to me in our own one-on-ones. There is one very senior level engineer on my team (equivalent in position to me) who tends to have a very different perspective than I do. And we have gotten into some very spirited debates as to who is correct. My manager has shut our debates down pretty quickly.

Team Zoom calls are not always the best avenue for debates. A lot depends on the nature of the call, but weekly, bi-weekly, or daily staff meetings are not the place for spirited debates. The purpose is usually to make sure the team is all up to date on any recent changes and to report on what they are actively working. Sure there is time for discussion and maybe even a little debate, but 2 or 3 people debating the merits of a specific aspect cannot monopolize the call. I've found the best way to deal with these types of disagreements are to just postpone the debate until you and the others with different opinions can get on a call/chat together and arrive at a consensus, which can reported back to the whole team later.

So it could be your manager is just trying to keep the meeting moving along and not specifically targeting you. The only way to know is to ask.

NOTE: this answer was based on the original version of the question. While it no longer addresses the clarified version, i chose to leave this up because I felt it might be useful for someone in a similar situation.

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    I took that sentence to mean that the manager was engaging in meaningful debates with other team members, but not @Tronche. – SeraM Aug 31 '20 at 21:39
  • @SeraM I'm reading that differently. The placement of the commas indicates you can remove that entire phrase so it ends up reading that the manager is interrupting debate with Tronche and other team members – psubsee2003 Aug 31 '20 at 22:38
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    @SeraM You read it right. Manager does not debate with me, but does with others. – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Sep 3 '20 at 7:37
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    This answer does not get question right and makes assumptions. Zoom calls are excellent medium for debates and arguments, if not the only one because of COVID. Manager uses very precise systematic turn and time based system. E.g each gets roughly 5 min per turn, then if someone wants add after session they get additional 2 min turns and etc. Which makes it very explicit that I am deliberately cut from communication. – DISCRIMINATED CENSORED BY SX M Sep 3 '20 at 7:44
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    @Tronche your orignal question was vague about the nature debate aspect. After you clarified, I chose to leave it up as it might be helpful to someone else who has your same problem, even if it doesn't apply perfectly to your specific situation – psubsee2003 Sep 3 '20 at 11:59
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How would you say your relationship is with the quality of your work? Not, "do you think you're good at your job", because everyone would say "yes" to that, even just out of arrogance. What I mean is, if I went and surveyed everyone on your team, how many of them do you think would tell me that you are good at your job? This includes people who "hate my guts and would badmouth me because they don't like me even though they know I'm good at my job".

I ask this question, because here's what might be happening:

  1. You are not good at your job. You introduce a lot of bugs, use old frameworks, write unclean, difficult to maintain code, are a stickler for old practices that aren't practical anymore, or any number of other things (or perhaps are just not well liked in the team, which seems possible given that you have arguments with your coworkers in public during Zoom meetings).

  2. New manager steps in, he doesn't know the team or the team dynamics or any of the team members. He's given a short briefing by individual members of the team, or by the previous manager, or by his boss, etc, on who everyone is and what they do. In part of this briefing, he is told you are not good at your job, and that's the information he begins leading the team with.

  3. Given that his information says that you are not good at your job, he downgrades you to bug triage and maintenance duty, to try to keep you away from the "juicy" projects, which, given his information, he believes you would screw up if he put you on them.

  4. You have an argument with a coworker in a Zoom meeting, which backs up his information and prior bias that you are not good at your job (you should have cut off the argument and "taken it offline", rather than wasting everyone's time).

Now, here's what you can do to try to resolve the issue: Have a 1-on-1 meeting with your manager and ask him direct, pointed questions about what he knows or thinks about your performance. Explain to him that you feel like you've been benched, and ask for a direct, pointed answer as to why he has made you feel this way (give him examples of why you feel this way, e.g. how many bug fixes have you done vs new development in the last or current sprint, etc). Then go from there. You might be able to find a solution, but worst case, it might be time to find a new job.

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